The John R. Bradstreet Manuscript Collection presents in microcosm, through the affectionate letters of a brother to his sister, the experiences of ordinary Americans enmeshed in the Second World War, from the earliest days of air raid drills and shortages to the relief of victory and the renewed fear of world conflict, occasioned this time by the advances of Communism in Europe and Asia. The collection contains items from 1941 to 1995, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1943 to 1946.
The Biography Series consists of a biographical sketch of Bradstreet forwarded by Brother Tom Marshall, S.J., Archivist of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, which holds another collection of Bradstreet papers. The Forms Series contains various Army forms.
The largest part of the collection is made up of correspondence, mainly letters to sister Consuelo from Bradstreet but also including letters to Bradstreet from servicemen. The few items from 1942 (Folder 2) chronicle the home front, with information on blackouts, gasoline and food shortages, and the drafting of university students. The 1943 correspondence (Folder 3) covers Bradstreet's first experiences as a chaplain at Camp White, Oregon and his attendance at Harvard University's Chaplains' School.
The year 1944 (Folder 4) contains Bradstreet's descriptions of his time in England with the 83rd General Hospital. He paints lyrical pictures of a Britain still open to tourists but also brings home the suffering of war and the heroism of the common soldier. A particularly valuable letter is that from Leonard Collett that movingly recounts the human wreckage that survived the horrors of Dachau.
In 1945 (Folder 5) Bradstreet moves from Europe at the end of the war back to the United States and then on to Hawaii, which Bradstreet disdained in part as a touristy "clip joint" but also appreciated for its amenities of life, including lovely flowers. Bradstreet's letters for 1946 (Folder 6) continue the Hawaii theme and comment on the Manila war crimes trials as well as the growing threat of world Communism.
The items from 1947 (Folder 7) are concerned mainly with family squabbles, and the undated correspondence (Folder 8) contains a letter apparently describing Bradstreet's crossing to England in 1944.